Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday - Amercian Diner

50s American Diner

I find buildings forWarehouse Wednesday by chance most of the time. There's always a camera in my rucksack and if pushed, my phone will do an OK job. On the way to DEMU a few weeks ago, I spotted this place in a village called Church Gresley. Heading back, I pulled in to take some a photo. 

What we have is a real American diner - all stainless steel outside and a long counter inside, just like you see in the movies. 

Apparently, the place was built in the 1950s to replace a wooden structure. It stayed open as Murphy's Diner until there were a couple of shooting incidents, and one of the customer's heads was found in the freezer. If you've ever worked with the public, this sort of thing won't entirely surprise you.  

From there, it was shipped over by Aston Martin as a customer care centre and then sold to be restored as a restaurant, which it now is. 

Having taken pictures, I decided to give it a go - the John Wayne burger is excellent, the soda a perfect accompaniment and the chocolate milkshake too thick to suck up the straw. Staff wear 1950s clothes and the decor is just as you'd hope. If I hadn't been full, I'd have tried the pancakes. Maybe next time.

So, even if you are modelling the UK, you can put a "diner" on your layout. Personally, I've always fancied building one from an old railroad coach. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Garden Rail July 2019

Issue 299 of Garden Rail has appeared and in it, I've been a bit brave.

Finding myself with a really interesting and well-writen article on 3D printing Victorian Gauge 1 rolling stock, I bit the bullet and gave it the 7 pages required to print without significant editing. Normally we don't go above 5 pages, but I hope this has enough general appeal for all readers. It's certainly covered the "3D printing rolling stock" breif for a few months.

Our layout feature did suffer some cuts, but hopefully good ones. The Bayfields Light Railway makes use of Filcris plastic wood for the track beds, but I've asked the author to turn the step-by-step construction into a seperate piece. We give the basics this time, but I feel it deserves two so we can have plenty of nice layout shots.

I've even been making things - building a Slater's skip wagon as a review. It's a simple to build kit, but produces a very fine model. There is a growing interest in more detailed large scale railway items, so it's a pleasure to be able to showcase some of this.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Finished oil bowser

16mm scale oil bowser

Job done - a nice simple kit that looks nice and wouldn't tax even the newbie-est of builders. 

I fancy that the oil drum will be changed regularly, so it's not as dirty as the rest of the wagon. It also adds a nice bit of colour to the model. 

The hose is supplied - a fat wire with solid enough core that you can bend it and it stays bent so it can droop properly. 

The only change I made to the model is replacing the little plastic hooks on the end with nails so the coupling chain won't fall off. I've also filled any gaps under the chassis rails with lead shot and superglue to give a bit more weight to the model.

Anyway, another addition to the 32mm gauge rolling stock consist. One day I must build a railway for them!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Railcar idea?

So, there I am at the Accucraft UK open day with may Garden Rail jacket on. The stand of bargain factory seconds includes a Dora and IOM Pairs coach.

Now, I've always wondered if Dora could be turned into the power unit for a steam railcar. A quick re-arrangement of the shelves helped my thinking.

It's not such a stupid idea. The first change I'd make is to go for a shorter and taller coach.

My choice would probably be something from the IP Engineering range as plywood withstands heat better than plastic.

There's also the issue of Dora being a bit flighty (I'm told) so the model might benefit from some sort of inertia control. A Slo-mo wouldn't fit, but there must be a way.

It's very much a back-burner idea at the moment, but then it's nice to have some of those burbling away in the back of your head. 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Gyro X car

Gyroscopically balanced transport fascinates me. Railways have the Brennan Gyro-Monorail, an amazing train that really deserves re-creating. Not so hard as there are plenty of photos and the NRM has the builders original model.

The Gyro-X was a 2-wheel car that used the same principles and has been restored by the Lane Motor Museum, a place of amazing vehicles.

If you like this, there is more in this video.

Is it me, or does this remind you of a Star Wars Landspeeder too?

Friday, June 14, 2019

The "new project" urge can strike at any time

In the corner of Hereford Model Centre, there is a little table full of Playmobil for kids to play with. Mostly it seems to be full of dragons (a film tie in) but there was also a boat-shaped thing and I couldn't resist picking this up for a closer look - don't worry, I didn't have to prise it from any tiny hands.

It looked a nice size, about the same as my Bantam Tugboat. The deck and bulwarks unclip so you can get at the inside. "I could fit radio gear in here", I thought.

There wasn't a boxed version in the extensive Playmobil stock but looking through a catalogue, the boat is a My Take Along 1.2.3. Noah's Ark and comes with a fine selection of animals and crew. There is a handle on top, missing on the one I saw, and the clip on deck is so you can store all the pieces inside.

At this point, I get the new project shivers. Fitted with a motor and radio control, this would be a colourful and fun project. On the water, I bet it would look great, although I'd stick the animals and people down so they don't go swimming.

The trouble is, I don't need any more projects. Those who know me, realise that I acquire new ones far faster than I complete them, but I still get the new project shivers. Is this an addiction? 

Please help. Explain why this is a bad idea in the comments to put me off!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Random rust spraying

The oil bowser needs to be a sort of rusty black colour and so for speed, I took it out in the garden to point aerosol primers at it. If that numpty Nevard can make a good job of painting like this, I'm sure a quality modeller with a nice tweed jacket and a full set of Model Railway Journals like myself can produce a masterpiece.

Armed with red oxide and matt black, I started with the later, giving everything a rough coat. Then, while the paint was still wet, shot some rust colour.

This looked too read so I came back with more black and it looked a lot better. Two more rounds and I was happy.

The trick is to work from a distance. I sprayed from between 12 and 24 inches away and it worked well. Coming in closer gives a better coat, but that's not the effect I was looking for. The finish is a little gritty because the paint has partly dried when it hits the surface, but as I plan to dab some weathering powders on later, this is A Good Thing. 

You also don't blast the components all over the scrap bit of MDF I was working on. Yes, I know I should fix them down, but that cramps my artistic style.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: Essendine Hotel

Essendine Hotel front view2

I pass this place every time I take a trip in to the BRM office - but not for much longer apparently.

The Essendine hotel, which hosted celebrations for the 1938 record speed attempt for the Mallard Steam train which did 126mph on the adjacent East Coast Mainline, is to be demolished and replaced with light industrial units. Abandoned and empty for 14 years, locals have condemned it as an eyesore.

Essendine Hotel front view

I think they are wrong. It's a nice looking building. Admittedly, it's looking tatty after years of neglect, but the basic shape and detail is quite nice. I can also appreciate that there isn't the call for a hotel in the village, and if there was, it wouldn't be this size, shape, or dominated by a giant storage place behind it.

Essendine Hotel rear view

There is modelling potential. The smooth finish makes for easy scratchbuilding. Even the arched windows are no problem if cut out with a compass cutter.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Get your glue out

Out with the Super-phatic for the MDF parts, which works really well. So well that when I realise that there are two options for the cross-pieces (with and without the upright to hold the hose), it's hard to separate them to put the one I wanted in.

I used the skip chassis as a jig while the glue dried, the slots are a bit sloppy but this way it's easy enough to get everything square. Once dry, the MDF is superglued to the glass-filled nylon chassis.

The turned wooden oil drum is a bit odd but coated with sanding sealer, it should be OK. I considered replacing it with a resin version but decided that I'd make do. Anyway, I'm not sure where they are.

It does need an extra flange on one end as this is plain, intended to be used as the base. Since the drum is on its side, a ring of plastic was cut out and glue in place.

Finally, the barrel retaining straps get a couple of plastic bolts on top. That's the thing about these cheap kit, the fun comes in detailing them.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Oil bowser

I'm trying to work my way through a box of kits that have been acquired over the last couple of years. It's a mixed box, but I'm keen to get some of these smaller projects out of the way.

Anyway, first up is this oil bowser wagon kit from Phil Sharples. It's based on a Binnie skip chassis with some laser-cut MDF bits to provide the body.

There's also a turned wooden oil barrel and some lengths of wire. Not bad for around a tenner.Garden railways can be bargain railways!

Sunday, June 09, 2019

DEMU 2019

Class 89

New venue for DEMU this year. No longer a short walk from the station to the town hall that was all atmosphere and exhibition managers nightmare. The new place is square and if you drive on Sunday as I did, the parking is free and easy (it filled up during the day).

Of course, nearly the first thing I did was be gifted a model boat!

The layouts were all excellent and I even managed a bit of wandering to take a few photos. Not too much standing and gawping time for me though, as usual, there was chat and then an hour of product photography at the end of the day. You can see these over on World of Railways.

Cake-wise, things weren't great, but I'm still trying to be good so this didn't matter. The hotdog when I arrived was welcome though and very tasty. 

Trade was excellent too if you didn't want steam related items. Basically, if you like diesel and electrics, then this is very much a show you need to stick in the diary for the future. 

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Making a 405 line television

A fascinating film showing how a GEC television set being made. Look at all those lovely, chunky components!

Friday, June 07, 2019

Graham Farish OO gauge van

Interesting vintage model railway item here - a OOgauge van from the days when Farish didn't just mean N gauge.

The body and chassis are diecast, the roof pressed metal.

Was 6/6 a lot of money in those days?

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Getting to the point, or at least rid of them

Silly little jobs it's easy to forget, but will cause you pain if you do - snipping off the sharp ends of Peco track pins under the baseboard. 

The plywood the Tim Horn baseboard I've used for my OO Billy Bookcase layout isn't very thick. Certainly not thick enough to absorb and an entire track pin. Stab yourself and you could almost think Sundeala was a good idea!

A few minutes snipping off the sharp bits with some flush snips and the problem was solved. I grabbed each pin while cutting with some pliers and wore protective goggles, just to be on the safe side. 


Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Warehourse Wednesday: Wooden hut

Wooden Hut

Cracking, and very useful as a prototype, wooden hut found in the wilds near Taunton. 

I could see this as a cafe, scout hut or even an office of sorts. To be honest, it's the sort of building that cries out to be reproduced in kit form by someone like Wills. 

As it is, the toughest part of a scratchbuild would be reproducing the level of ramshackleness without becoming a cartoon. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Done for now.

Couplings and buffers on, I'm going to stop work on the wooden ballast wagon at this point. I could give it a coat of paint, but that would hide the lovely wooden body and you'd not be able to tell it from a plastic kit model.

One day, when I have a layout for the model to run on, I'll finish the job, but for now, I like it how it is. Am I the only one who likes looking at a well-built brass model without paint?

It might seem silly to have splurged cash on saving a £1 refuge from a second-hand stall, but I've terrific satisfaction from doing it, which is the point of the hobby I suppose.

Now, what do do with the leftover van body. One for another day...

Monday, June 03, 2019

Wooden wagon brakes

One of the benefits of working in any particular scale for a while is you build up a stock of bits and pieces that come in handy for future projects. I remember my early 3mm scale days when projects would stall for lack of supplies and how frustrating this was.

O gauge is better for me. Rootling around in a drawer, I found some nearly right brake gear that could be modified to do the job. It's mostly Slater's bits I think with a cross shaft made from scrap tube. This has to be cut in half for the wobbly solebar compensation to work.

The W-Irons are bigger than they should be for this wagon, which throws the angles of the push rods off a bit. This is going to be a "layout wagon" I'm afraid, but to be fair, that's the sort of thing I can use.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Railex 2019

Midland in Bristol - Yard Entrance

Curse you Railex!

Normally, the decision on which layout I'd like to build is fairly easy, but by hosting the final of the Cameo Layout Competition, the organisers made it pretty difficult.

I'm going to have to plump for the second-placed layout, The Midland in Bristol. While lack of operation cost it the win, I couldn't get enough of the huge amount of detail in the short 7mm scale scene. Look at the dock walls, the crane, all that clutter. I loved it all.

Newton Heath Works - Sentinel shunter

I'd have been just as happy to have built the winner, Newton Heath Works, too. Unloading skips wagons (poked by wire underneath) were clever and I liked the look of the Sentinel shunter. In fact as I have one in 4mm scale, perhaps it would be an idea for a layout...


Around the corner was another surprise. Leighton Buzzard was being manned by two of the Rev Peter Denny's offspring. Crispin was there in person, not in automatic form but Stephen had brought from stock from the Trepolpen Valley Light Railway. I remember this from old magazines and it's proper old-skool garden railway. I've had a chat and will be off to take some proper shots of the locos and wagons for a future issue of Garden Rail. 

Apart from these, there were loads of other great layouts, but sadly I was having battery issue with my compact, so the photos on Flickr were largely taken with my mobile. Still well worth a look though. 

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Saturday Film Club: Secrets of the Central Line

London Underground fascinates me. So much so, I once went all the way down there just to ride to the exotically names "Ongar". 

Since then the line has shut, but makes a brief appearance at the start of this film. Then there's loads of other nerdy and interesting stuff. I feel the need to go and have another look.

Friday, May 31, 2019

R2D2 frustration

R2D2 is built!

Standing at 19 inches tall and weighing quite a big (he won't fit on the scales) this is one impressive model. It's a good looking one too. Although there is a lot of self-coloured plastic going on, it's satin rather than gloss finish.

One slight snag - R2 needs batteries and I don't mean some AAs from the newsagent. He needs something special.

No problem you think, there will be details at the end of the partwork.

There is a specification, but no suggestion where you might get some.  The website just says "COMING SOON - a link to order batteries optimised for use in your R2-D2 droid. More information will be available shortly." as it has done for several months.

Looking at the topic on the company forum, there is a truculent post from the admin on the 26th January saying "Until the further update of the DeAgostini battery this topic will remain locked."

Basically, it looks like DeAgostini is saying, "We have your money, now sod off."

Fortunately, I have found a website that caters for builders. Team 18650 have a page full of advice and will shortly be recieving an order for power cells. At a fiver each, this won't be cheap, but then the whole project has cost over £900 so far.

If it all works, then that's not a problem. My Dad has enjoyed the build so far. It's easy to spend this much on beer in a year (just under 4 pints a week, 6 in a 'spoons) and you don't get a good looking droid for your money.

What's frustrating is that I've always defended part-works from those whose knee-jerk reaction is that they are rubbish/never complete/too expensive and now I feel I'm being shafted by the company who makes this one. I doubt I will be so quick to rush to their defence in future.

Now, where's the address for Trading Standards...

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Wobbly solebar

Here's a novel feature. When I looked closely at the solebars of this wooden model, the top edge of one wasn't flat and there is a bolt set into the face, sticking out the back.

A little bit of thinking and I recalled reading an old magazine where the idea of a rocking solebar was suggested as a way of compensating the chassis. It doesn't move much, only a millimetre at the extreme ends, but enough to deal with track irregularities.

The builder obviously had second thoughts as there were a set of rocking W-iron cradles in the box. That seems no fun, so I messed around with some brass bits to make a pivot point and found a suitable sized nut.

With the whitemetal axleboxes from the old banana van fitted (they are a bit long for a ballast wagon, but I'm not buying more), the wagon sits nicely flat and it runs well.

There is still a mystery - what were the bits of wood with a brass rod running between them intended to do?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: London taximan's shelter

Taximans shelter front

Can you get more London than this?

Anyone who has looked at the Wills plastic kit range since the late 1980s will be familiar with this prototype - a wooden shelter/cafe for cab drivers. These tiny little buildings used to be dotted around the capital providing respite for those locked away in their black cabs for most of the day. 

Nowadays, there are only 13 shelters left. This one is on the corner of Russel Square, close to the British Museum and a pub I was meeting some friends for a  drink later. 

Taximans shelter back

Tea only costs £1 for the public - one of the best bargains in London?

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Wooden wagon rescue

Show me a box on a second-hand stall containing a 7mm scale wagon priced at a pound, and it's probably coming home with me.

That's especially true when the wagon is a beautifully scratch-built model made of wood. Someone has expendended a terrific amount of time and skill on this model. Presumably, they have then died and when the stash of models was cleared, this one ended up in a little cardboard box among a load of other stuff. People were so interested, it was still there on Sunday at a busy show.

I'm a sucker for this sort of thing and feel I have to rescue the model. I can't see all that effort thrown away.

What you see though, is what I got for my quid. I needed more parts to finish the project. 

Walking around the show, I managed to buy some wheels and buffers, but axleboxes eluded me. Not to worry, the second-hand stall also featured some tatty stock and for 4 quid, I bagged a banana van with one set of wheels and a dented roof.

Total cost - £30. To save a £1 model. You probably think I'm mad. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

Beetle built

Having finished sticking the Beetle together, I've a few thoughts about the build and the Revell kit.

At the start, I was really getting into it. Pre-painting was fun and seemed to go well. All the parts fit together well enough and the car is a good shape. I'm pleased with the chrome trim, although it looks better in real life then the photo.

Towards the end, things weren't so good. The headlight fit is hopeless and the glue has smeared the paint on the chrome. I can scrape this off, but on the third go, can't be bothered. You get the paint off but push the headlight out and have to take the car apart (the floorpan clips into the body fortunately) to re-glue it.

In fact, the chromed parts annoyed me most of all. There's a shiny rear numberplate light that had to be painted. Despite masking the rubber strips on the bumpers, this isn't very neat. In hindsight, I should have sanded them flat and used vinyl strips stuck on. In fact, I should have removed all the chrome with some sort of vicious kitchen cleaner.

Never mind, I did this for fun. The end result is OK and at least a different sort of project from the trains. The trick is to stop getting hung up on perfecting and just enjoy the ride I suppose.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Finding a railway at the slot car show

I've been trying to include more non-train events in my life recently. You can get rather too deep into the hobby, especially when it's your job as well and I've been feeling like I need a break over the last few weeks.

Sometimes though, you can't avoid the things. There I am at a slot car show (I go because my Dad is interested...) and what do I find? A G gauge railway!

Impressively, this is all Playmobil stuff, the sort of thing I would have dreamed of as a kid playing with my Playpeople. Sadly, they don't make the railway range any more and being based on LGB mechanics, it's popular with large scale modellers.

The track was interlinked with a slot car system. In theory, the trains and cars can't crash...

Elsewhere there were more tracks to try than ever before and a good time was being had by all. It still impresses me just how much younger the audience is at this show compared to any of the other I attend. Maybe it's all about reaction time?

One pleasant surprise was bumping into Kit "Mr Tilt" Spakman. He turns up everywhere including railway shows! This time he had a 1/32nd drag racing Hilman Imp in his pocket, a model of a real car he'd owned years ago with a friend. It just shows, some people are interested in all sorts of things.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Voltmeter repair

I picked this neat little voltmeter up at the Vintage radio fair. I don't need another voltmeter, but I thought this looked a bit nifty so punted a fiver on it.

Obviously the wire out of the top had had it, but stripping some insulation proved the meter worked. The 12V leg was a bit wobbly too.

Inside, there was some odd, rubbery, fibrous insulation tape on the top wire. I assumed this wasn't the best in the world and cut it away. The old wire could then be unsoldered and replaced with some new silicon cable complete with croc-clip.

The wobbly leg was fixed with lots of superglue run around the inside. Not ideal, but I couldn't take it apart to do anything else. The fix worked, so that's all that matters.

With the back back on, and a quick clean of the glass on the front, the job was finished. OK, I still don't really need another voltmeter, but this one is pretty good looking so I'm glad to add it to the collection.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Buildings in BRM

The Billy Bookcase layout makes progress in the June issue of BRM - I've built the buildings.

My plan was to use as many different manufacturers products as possible, but make them all sit harmoniously together. To this end, we have stuff from Bachmann, Skytrex, Petite Properties and Metcalf models arranged along the back of the layout.

You'll not be surprised to learn that I couldn't leave a nice Scenecraft building alone, it's been modified...

 On the DVD, I'm building and painting a laser-cut weighbridge hut kit - one of the freebies given away to advanced ticket holder at Ally Pally. Well, it seems like an interesting challenge and I'm quite pleased with the results.

Digi issue readers will also find a few interviews I carried out at the RMweb members weekend.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Warehouse Wednesday: Overgrown building

Overgrown barn front

Spotted in Margate, this was obviously a very well-built store of some sort, but it's fallen on hard times, and now nature is reclaiming it big time. 

The back would be easy enough to model, but the front would be more of a challenge. All those exposed beams and the remains of the featherboard covering make this well worth a look as a potential prototype. 

Overgrown barn back

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Painting the chrome trim

Trickiest job on the Beetle build? Painting the chrome trim on the sides and bonnet.

It's thin, and not raised enough to dry-brush.

I agonised a bit about this and then came up with the solution - use a bow-pen.

Loaded with Humbrol silver paint, I managed to place the blades either side of the trim and draw an OK line. OK, but not good enough all the way along.

Dampening a pointy brush with turps, I managed to draw this along the trim and pick up excess paint which was wiped off on a paper towel. Eventually, I did enough "paint lifting" as watercolour painters call the technique.

The results look pretty good so I'll remember this for the future. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

National Vintage Communications Fair 2019

Ten pounds to go into the antique fair? Makes toy train show look like a bargain...

Still, I like to go to non-train events and I was sure I could extract a tenners worth of entertainment from the day. It's not that much dearer then seeing a bad film at the cinema, for example, quite a lot cheaper if you buy popcorn.

Don't get me wrong, this is a proper nerdy event. The place is full of people fascinated and knowledgable about vintage radios and telephones. If you want valves or the bits to restore a bakelite handset, this is the place.

I've no desire to collect wooden cabinet radiograms and didn't find it hard to resist interesting plastic novelty radios. OK, the original, boxed Sinclair X-10 radio was a bit tempting, but not at 60 quid. I was a Sinclair child at school, knowing full well that my home computer was superior to a Commodore 64.

Serious enthusiasts or traders can get in early for £25 and when I arrived, they were carrying out bits of stack stereo system, some of which look a lot like my venerable stereo, bought from Richer Sounds many years ago. Have I bought a classic?

One thing this show is really good for is collecting parts for steampunk projects. I've got one in mind and some knobs and screw terminals were acquired for no money. There's also a voltmeter, but I'll come back to that in a later post.